Waveriders

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During my recent holiday in Florida, my 7-year-old niece told me that she was going to learn how to surf this summer (a summer surf course). I asked her if she knew what the word “jealous” meant. I explained that it meant that I wish I could take summer surf lessons.

Later, we went to a local surf shop in Jupiter, and I was the proverbial kid in a candy store, desiring surf boards and paraphenalia. My brother and niece agreed which would be the first board daddy would get for her. Again, jealous.

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Coincidentially (and I think appropriately so), I had just learned of a new film, Waveriders (trailer above). It tells story of George Freeth (image above), the son of an Irishman, who re-introduced the ancient Polynesian art of wave riding in Hawaii in the early 20th century after it had been stamped out by missionaries. By the time of his untimely death at the age of 35 he was renowned for his legendary skills as a surfer and lifeguard. The film pays fulsome tribute to Freeth’s forgotten legacy and explores the wave of influence he created for surfers everywhere down the years. The unlikely Irish connection to the worldwide phenomenon of surfing comes full circle as we see skilled Irish and British surfers link up with world champion Kelly Slater, soul surfer Kevin Naughton and the renowned Malloy brothers to ride some of the most exciting surf ever seen in Ireland.

Waveriders is a cross border co-production between Dublin-based Inís Films and Derry-based Besom Productions. The film was released in 18 cinemas throughout Ireland; I saw it at the Movie House in Belfast. I have no idea of wider distribution. But to be fair, the Waveriders website is full of media material and have a YouTube channel. Hopefully enough to get the gist if not whet your appetite.

There was a scene featuring superstar professional surfer Kelly Slater, who came to Ireland in the hope of riding some waves “away from it all”. He genuinely didn’t seem to mind being joined by about a dozen casual surfers. Although the waves were hardly meaty (about 4-footers), Slater’s carving and riding the crest (some surf geek will surely tell me the right term for this) was masterful.

When Keith Malloy pronounced that one year the biggest wave will be ridden in Ireland, I was skeptical. But lo and behold film footage of Fitzgerald, Davies and Malloy riding absolute monsters in Doolin, Co. Clare. It was an awesome finale for the film. You got to check it out!

I thoroughly liked Waveriders. Excellent direction by Joel Conroy (who was also the writer). I lament that I can’t be there for a Q&A with Conroy at Apollo Picadilly Circus, London, on Sunday, 12th April. But maybe you can.

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